Every 15 to 20 years, the UC Regents require each of their 10 campuses to formulate a long-term plan for improvement. UCSB’s Long-Range Development Plan (LRDP), scheduled for completion by 2025, provides for the physical implementation of the university’s Academic Plan, which has been in development stages for several years now.
After numerous meetings with campus representatives and contributions from the public, the university, along with representatives of Sustainable University Now (SUN), has finally come to an agreement. Newly agreed upon terms for the LRDP include greater community involvement in UCSB oversight committees and more environmentally sustainable practices.
Greener developments include improving access to alternative transportation and reducing the number of parking spaces by 650 from the original campus plan, in order to reduce vehicle emissions. There will also be greater efforts to protect wildlife habitats from future building projects and to report on greenhouse-gas emissions. In a bid to provide housing for the growing number of residents living in the area, the campus has already agreed to build housing for new students and for faculty and staff members.
SUN convener Richard Flacks described in a written statement the overall goals for the plan: “We sought to accelerate the campus’s movement toward environmental sustainability and ensure that its future growth serves the wider community by focusing on transportation, housing, biological resources, water resources, and energy.”
Flacks stressed the importance of the negotiations with the university; their recent agreement serves as a binding legal document, meaning that if the university should violate the terms of their agreement, it will be held legally accountable. Another important aspect of the negotiations built into the agreement is the mandate allowing community representatives to participate with the university’s sustainability committees.
“The agreement provides that we can name SUN representatives to be put on these committees, and that gives the community a voice over time with these policies,” said Flacks in a phone interview. “Their development plan now goes before the Coastal Commission. This is the only campus in the UC system that needs the approval of the Coastal Commission because the campus is built along the ocean. They will now be examining the plan, and it may be another year before they approve it.”
Still, the end of the negotiation process with SUN ushers in a new phase of environmental safeguards to the campus’s expansion plan that will benefit generations of Gauchos and Santa Barbara residents in the future.